Garden of E


My Info

Austin, Texas
I've lived and gardened in urban Austin for the past 8 years, after retiring from the last of my several careers. BR (before retirement), most of my life was spent in colder places like Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Boston MA. Best thing I've done AR-- becoming a Master Gardener. Other passions-- Austin Farmers' Market, grandchildren, and travel.

photo by Elsa, age 7

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The dead, wounded, and missing in action

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings

To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks:

He withers all in silence, and his hand

Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

- William Blake, Poetical Sketches - Winter, 1783

It's taken a couple of bleak winter weeks (and I hope they're the last this year) to prompt me to post after a long hiatus. Texas gardeners are fond of taking risks with marginally hardy plant, and this year has proved which ones have true mettle. The scene last week didn't look promising.
In my garden some things definitely look dead, such as this no-name euphorbia that once upon a time was upright

and the pretty pine-cone cactus that has lost its oomph.

Another of my favorite succulents looks like it has some real green left; it's not an upright form, so its recumbent state is normal.

The society garlic, of which I have many, looked like goners, but then I noticed some bright green at the centers.

I was worried that my manfreda undulata "chocolate chips" that I had dug up and divided when it pupped in the fall would be mush, but it looks like the center spike has life.

I saved what little bulbine survived last year's 17 degrees and replanted it. Through that act of natural selection, it looks like it will pull through.

Aloe "lizard lips," my favorite variegated aloe, earns a gold star for being hardy enough to survive two winters without being brought inside.

In the vegetable garden, the more exotic plants in the mesclun mix are toast

and the more common lettuces like Red Sails and Salad Bowl are a little shriveled but still growing.

The sweet bay tree is still green and pretty with its snow frosting. Other things I found healthy and green: lambs' ears, Mexican oregano, both kinds of rosemary, lavender, oregano, and snapdragons.  Those paperwhites that had dared to start blooming lost their heads.

Finally, just so we don't lose our perspective on how our weather contrasts with the east coast, this weather map sent to me by a friend in New Hampshire:


  1. Looks like you came through pretty well! You've given me hope that my aloes aren't total goners. Love the Blake poem--gave me chills (in a good way.)

  2. Good to see a post, E - even when the impetus was our big chill1 It does look as if your garden did well!

    All my bulbines died last year but a few aloes & agaves survived. This year they look dead now, along with the spineless cactus. Do you think your Sweet Bay is the same as Bay Laurel? Both my Bay Laurels have quite a bit of damage.

    Just how tough is that manfreda? I wonder if it could survive in my neighborhood.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Impressive that your Aloe "lizard lips" survived - most of my Aloes are mush (though some pups may have survived). And good news re: your manfreda undulata "chocolate chips"; mine is in the garage recovering as it wasn't doing well even way back in the fall.

  4. Annie, sweet bay and bay laurel are names for the same plant (laurus nobilis). One site I looked up says it is hardy to 19 degrees. May depend on microclimate and size?

  5. My bay laurels are near a brick wall, E. They made it through 13ºF last year and hope they will live after the 14ºF of this year. My garden seems to have more generalized damage this year - because it was cold for a longer length of time with those awful winds, I guess!


  6. Very nice blog! And I have to say, Elsa took a very nice profile pic for you. I garden in Austin as well and am always thrilled to find a fellow gardener online. Also, I like your roses quite a bit. I go back and forth when I consider planting roses. Yours are an inspiration.

  7. Roberta, thank you! Since that photo is almost 3 years old, perhaps I should ask Elsa to take a new one. She got a new camera for Christmas. Roses? One of the easiest shrubs to grow, and such rewards.

  8. Oh my, that brings back some sad memories. I lost my pinecone cactus and lots more too...lovely photos though :)

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